Dan Davis Biography

Dan Davis of Davis Guitars - Custom guitar luthier
Dan Davis - Cincinnati, Ohio Luthier

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 18, 1953, my father was a carpenter, and my mother was a full-time housewife with 12 children (God bless her). I was born on my father’s birthday, so I guess I was destined to follow in his footsteps in some way – maybe that is why I love working with wood and why I am so intrigued with guitar building!

Upon graduation from high school, I worked as a cabinetmaker for a local kitchen remodeling company and attended evening classes at the University of Cincinnati. After two years, I started to do repair work for a local furniture company while continuing my education at UC.

During this time, I started to play the guitar and wanted to upgrade my (beginner) instrument. I could not afford the quality instruments that I desired, so I decided to use my wood working skills and build one. I did a lot of research at the library, bought some books, and built my first classical guitar with reasonable success.

I wanted to improve my instrument construction knowledge, so in 1978 I traveled to San Diego, California to study guitar making under Bozo Podunavac, a master instrument maker from Yugoslavia. Bozo’s talent, passion, and creativity are evident in every instrument that he produces. The decision to study under a master like him was definitely the right one.

After completing my studies with Bozo, I decided to stay in California. For two years, I worked for a large engineering and construction firm in southern California and built guitars part-time. In 1981 I accepted a one-year assignment and moved to South Africa. The assignment continued for five years. Since I did not have my tools to continue building, I started a guitar repair business. During that time, I repaired instruments for most of the music companies in South Africa.

I moved back to the United States in 1986 and started to build guitars again. In 1988 I was asked to go back to South Africa for a year. We loved it so much there that we couldn’t refuse the offer. I immediately picked up my guitar repair business when I returned. Again, the one-year assignment stretched out for five more years.

In 1995 I left South Africa for a position back home in the Cincinnati, Ohio office of the same company. A year later, I designed and built my home that incorporates my guitar shop. I no longer take on any repair work so that I can devote as much time as possible to what I enjoy most – “guitar building.”

You will see a lot of Bozo’s influence in my guitars because I love the looks and sounds that are produced from the construction techniques that he taught me. He is a great guitar builder, and I thank him for teaching me and sharing his knowledge with me, then and now, with our continuing friendship.

Mother of Pearl inlay by Dan Davis Custom Guitars of Cincinnati, OH